Monthly Archives: June 2015

June Transportation News Round Up

TransportatioNews

This month, there’s been many new developments and news stories affecting the transportation, logistics and supply chain industries. Here is a quick guide to 6 of the most talked about stories, check them out:

  • CVSA’s 28th Annual Roadcheck Completed. From June 2-4, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world. Nearly 17 trucks or buses were inspected every minute in Canada, the US and Mexico. This year’s emphasis: cargo securement.
  • OPEC Will Not Cut Oil Production. OPEC’s decision not to cut oil production at its June 5 meeting indicates that American gas prices are likely to remain low. OPEC aims to keep oil production at 30 million barrels.
  • Trucking Adds 8,600 Jobs. The May 2015 job report from the US Department of Labor shows the trucking industry (and overall economy) can anticipate a strong second half of the year. The May jobs total is just 3,500 jobs less than the all-time high for trucking, set in January 2007.
  • EPA Rules to Cut Airplane Emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency said that emissions from airplanes endanger human health and wellness because of their contribution to global warming. The EPA’s final rule on regulating aircraft emissions will be released around 2018. The EPA expects greenhouse gasses from aircrafts to increase by nearly 50% from 2010 to 2035. (Learn about the EPAs Transportation Initiative)
  • US Rail Intermodal Traffic on the Rise. US rail intermodal traffic rose to the second-highest level in 2015 during the first week of June. Year to date, US intermodal volume increased 2.1% to 5.8 million units. Then, on the week of June 7, intermodal traffic rose to the highest level of record. (Find out why shippers are turning to intermodal here.)
  • NHTSA’s ESC Requirement Supported. The trucking industry supports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s requirement for electronic stability controls (ESC). Starting in 2017, new class 8 truck configurations must be equipped with ESC. New buses can expect the same requirement in 2018. This technology has proven it saves lives and prevents costly truck accidents. NHTSA estimates that this mandate could prevent more than 1,700 crashes every year.

 

Keep up with the latest trends and topics in transportation by subscribing to PLS Logistics Services .

Infographic: Fireworks and Hazardous Materials

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Whatever your plans are for the 4th of July, you’ll inevitably run into some sort of fireworks display.  Whether it’s a professional show or relatives shooting off some bottle rockets in the backyard, it’s important to remember that fireworks are hazardous materials.  The following infographic explains why fireworks are considered hazardous materials and how to stay safe during Fourth of July celebrations.  

What Can We Expect for the Rest of 2015?

WhatsAhead

Earlier this year, we predicted what opportunities and trends would be most popular within the supply chain and transportation industry. Supply chains, no matter the industry or company size, must keep up with the latest developments and news affecting transportation, logistics and business partners. As technology springs forward, 3PLs and shippers find more collaboration – working toward innovative solutions for time and cost savings.

To briefly recap what we had previously projected, read our post.
For an in-depth analysis of these trends, download our eBook.

Now that we’re halfway through 2015, we’ve decided to assess our expectations from January and take a deep dive into new trends, opportunities and challenges for this year.

Big data, omni-channel and organizational alignment continue to evolve, improve, and are undeniably important. The industry continues to encounter challenges from ongoing problems like the driver shortage, infrastructure funding and changing regulations.

So, what else can we expect from supply chain, logistics and transportation industries this year?

  • LTL Freight Shipping Prices to Increase
    Demand is increasing for LTL capacity, so carriers will increase shipping prices. Not only have carriers already implemented GRIs, they are likely to add another GRI in the third quarter, on top of 3-5% rate increases.
  • Internet of Things to Change Delivery 
    The Internet of Things (IoT) will not only allow real-time information exchange between supply chain experts, but allow working machines, such as trucks, to collect and transmit real-time data to a supply chain expert. The data is reshaping how information is provided. For transportation, the IoT can provide information on travel time, origin, destination and traffic movement. The IoT will greatly affect supply chain management.
  • Robotics, 3D Printing, Drones 
    The robotics market is expected to grow rapidly. Robotics will drive down labor costs and increase productivity. The use of robots in manufacturing and supply chain expose new opportunities for businesses. 3D printers are being integrated into manufacturing which will change prototyping strategies, and in the future, mass production of products. Logistics will also change – fulfillment processes, transportation routes and customer relationships will all have to accommodate a distribution center located very close to a customer. Delivery drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAV”) will autonomously deliver items to various destinations.
  • Risk Management Plans
    As evidenced by events of this year (West Coast port shutdown, floods, winter storms), companies have to plan ahead and create risk management plans in case of an event that disrupts their supply chain. Determine where product suppliers and manufacturers are located so that you can proactively reduce risk.
  • Customer Satisfaction as Number 1
    Shippers will continue to produce better customer experiences for the end-consumer. Improving customer satisfaction is the key to growth. It’s predicted that by 2020, customer experience will be more important than price, product or brand choice as a differentiator in a purchasing decision.

As trends and technologies change, supply chain leaders will have to enhance their strategies according to big data, new regulations and the customers’ demands.

What emerging transportation and supply chain trends are you noticing? Let us know in the comments below.

JSW Steel (USA) Inc. Announces Agreement with PLS Logistics Services

BAYTOWN, Texas, June 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — JSW Steel (USA) Inc. (“JSW”) has entered into an agreement with PLS Logistics Services (“PLS”), the largest industrial 3PL transportation services provider in North America. PLS will provide transportation and logistics solutions for outbound steel plate shipments from JSW’s plant in Baytown, Texas.

JSW operates one of the widest carbon plate mills in North America. JSW services shipyards, oilfield fabricators, heavy equipment producers, machinery makers and many other OEMs and distributors who need high-quality carbon plate and large diameter pipe.John Hritz, President and CEO of JSW commented, “I recall negotiating and concluding PLS’ first large steel manufacturing logistics contract when I was with another steel entity, and they have grown exponentially since then. We are pleased to partner with them going forward.”

“PLS’ technology-driven approach ensures that every freight move is optimized and tendered at the lowest cost, meeting service requirements while providing increased visibility through tracking, administration and reporting,” says Greg Burns, PLS’ Chairman, President and CEO.

PLS provides opportunities to overcome transportation challenges, such as load time delays and limited capacity. PLS expands JSW’s supply chain and offers broader and faster service to their customer network.

PLS’ scale, rich history in the steel industry, quality of service and competitive rates assure JSW that they can expand their volume and shipping needs.

About JSW Steel (USA) Inc.

JSW is a Texas-based corporation specializing in the production of discreet carbon steel plate thickness up to 6″and widths up to 160″, as well as large diameter pipe up to 80′ long with wall thickness up to 1″. Strategically located 30 miles southeast of Houston, JSW has the ideal site and capabilities to serve its global energy, rail and tank car, utility pole customers, and shipbuilding industries. To learn more, visit JSWSteel.US.

About PLS Logistics Services:

PLS Logistics Services is a leading provider of logistics management, brokerage and technology services for shippers across all industries. PLS handles millions of loads annually across all major freight modes: flatbed, van, LTL, rail and barge, air and ocean. The PLS carrier network consists of over 20,000 trucking companies along with Class-1 railroads and major barge companies. To learn more, visit www.plslogistics.com or call (724) 814-5100.

Is a Non-Asset Based 3PL Right for Your Company?

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There are several benefits for your business when outsourcing the supply chain; as it will reduce costs, improve service and allow the shipper to focus on core competency. Third-party logistics firms give you a chance to provide value through solutions, service and expansion.

3PLs are broken up into two categories: asset-based and non-asset based. The main difference between the two is that asset-based firms own part of the supply chain, like trucks, distribution centers and/or warehouses. A non-asset based 3PL, predictably, does not own supply chain assets.

Asset-Based

Non-Asset Based

  • Owns many or all assets in supply chain
  • Can take care of entire supply chain
  • Set pricing
  • Align your solution within their strategy
  • Knowledge and expertise to identify and evaluate challenges and solutions
  • Negotiate for cost savings
  • Flexible, work with large carrier network
  • Uncover hidden freight costs

There are many misconceptions about non-asset based third party logistics companies in the transportation industry. This is understandable because before 2013, just about anybody with access to the internet and a phone could claim themselves as a non-asset based 3PL; that is, until DOT changed the freight broker surety bond to $75,000. Today, a good 3PL will be a transparent, collaborative logistics partner that saves money and drives value for a shipper.

There are pros and cons for both types of 3PLs. The goal of both is to reduce errors, cut costs and improve general initiatives. Asset-based firms could encounter a conflict of interest; they’re managing your logistics using their assets, but a non-asset 3PL doesn’t have any hidden agenda. Since non-asset based firms act as third party in every aspect, they can’t use their own assets as an advantage.

Some key benefits to outsourcing transportation to a non-asset based 3PL include:

  • Competitive carrier rates and secured capacity
  • Knowledge on base rates, surcharges and other fees
  • Continuous optimization for business improvements
  • Collaboration and partnership to build long-term results

PLS Logistics is a non-asset based 3PL. PLS lets you focus on your job’s responsibilities while your single point of contact runs your supply chain. PLS doesn’t have an inventory of assets to keep profitable; our team connects to a large carrier network to eliminate inefficiency and provide value at a low cost. We are experts at negotiating and can provide documentation of proven successes. We’re proud to offer transparent, trustworthy services to shippers.

Continue Reading: What a 3PL Can Do For You and 6 Reasons to Outsource Transportation.

The Foolproof Guide to Understanding CSA

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What is CSA?

There are more than 500 million trucks and bus carriers in the US and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does its best to execute safety regulations for all of them. In 2010, the FMCSA launched the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety. The measure was intended to reduce crashes and injuries and better report safety problems.

CSA is a compliance model that permits the FMCSA to gather large amounts of safety performance and equipment maintenance data. They can then contact carriers to point out areas of concern to prevent accidents.

How does CSA work?

The CSA enforcement and compliance process consists of 3 main stages: measurement, evaluation and intervention.

  1. Measurement
    Using data on crashes and inspections, CSA identifies carrier’s or driver’s safety problems and monitors how they are being resolved. There are 7 Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):
  • Unsafe Driving (e.g. speeding, inattention, reckless driving)
  • Hours of Service Compliance (e.g. operating a CMV while ill or fatigued)
  • Driver Fitness (e.g. driver is medically unqualified to operate a truck)
  • Controlled Substances/Alcohol (use or possession)
  • Vehicle Maintenance (failure to properly maintain truck, e.g. light or brake defects)
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance (unsafe handling, absence of shipping papers)
  • Crash Indicator (based on number and severity of crashes)
  1. Evaluation
    After the measurement stage, FMCSA contacts carriers to correct high-risk behavior. The level of intervention depends on specific safety issues and Safety Fitness determination technology. Carriers are being assigned scores from 0 to 100, where 0 represents perfect safety performance, based on type and frequency of violations. When a certain score is reached, the carrier faces CSA’s intervention process.
  1. Intervention
    CSA lets officials choose the most efficient type of intervention, based off the carrier’s BASICs score and enforcement history:
  • Warning letter (it should indicate exact safety problem and permit an opportunity to make positive changes)
  • Increased roadside enforcement
  • Focused off-site investigation
  • Focused on-site investigation
  • Cooperative safety plan
  • Notice of violation
  • Comprehensive on-site investigation
  • Notice of claim, penalty, and settlement agreement involves fining the carrier or driver.

After 5 years, what are CSA’s performance results?

CSA has been a successful and effective program, compared to the previous, SafeStat, and led to positive changes in carriers’ and drivers’ safety performance. Thanks to warning letters, the FMCSA increased the number of annual interventions from 16,000 to 44,000. Shippers have become part of the CSA safety policy as well, many refuse new contracts with carriers with poor BASIC scores.

On the other hand, trucking companies and drivers blame CSA for being unfair and uncorrelated to real risk. Carriers with good safety records could be penalized for small issues, when companies with major problems are being ignored by CSA. FCMSA says it continues makes changes to CSA system, based on feedback.

Continue reading: PLS about FMCSA CSA’s mobile app, QC mobile, designed to provide safety information on interstate trucks. 

Dry Van Shipping: 8 Facts

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1) Dry Van is the most common type of freight transportation in the US. Dry van trailers, or enclosed box trailers, could be described simply as a box on wheels with doors in the back. It has no temperature control and is designed to carry pallets or boxes of cargo and any type of equipment.

2) Dry vans are versatile in terms of freight shipments, both for local and over-the-road routes. Dry vans are usedfor moving non-perishable foods and beverages, textile and clothing items, plastic and building products.

3) Because cargo is protected from bad weather, possible damage and theft, dry van trailers are used frequently. Thus, freight claims are usually low.

4) The maximum length allowed for a dry van truck is 53 feet. A dry van trailer can haul up to 45,000 pounds of cargo or 26 standard pallets. 

5) According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, dry van trailers acquire the highest rating (42.3%) of fatal crash involvement every year (partly because of its prevalence on the roads).

6) With the growing capacity crunch, shippers are dealing with 5-7% dry van rate increase this year. Rates reached $1.90 in March 2015 and were still at $1.85 at the end of May 2015.

7) The type of floor is a sensitive issue for dry van trailers. Usually, hardwood floors are used in dry vans, but it is vulnerable to moisture that can come from freight or through open doors.

8) Both full truckload and LTL freight shippers can benefit from using dry van trailers. Full truckload allows to schedule customized pick-up and delivery, so freight will be delivered safely and on time. LTL shipping with dry vans can bring significant cost savings through shipment consolidation.

What to Read Next:

PLS Logistics offers dry van trucking services, including full truckload and LTL shipments.  To learn more about dry van freight shipments, visit our website or request a free dry van freight assessment now.

A Helpful Guide to Over Dimensional Flatbed Shipments

Flatbed_Shipping

When weight and dimensions are more than the standard legal size, then the shipment is considered over dimensional. Shippers have to pay attention to their freight’s weight and dimensions, especially if it will be shipped on an over dimensional flatbed trailer.  

A legal flatbed trailer’s load cannot exceed 8’6 high, 8’6 wide, 48’ long with an average weight around 45,000 pounds, but not more than 80,000 pounds. With traditional flatbed trailers, the driver’s view is not obstructed.

Over dimensional flatbed trailers can handle freight as long as 160’ long, 18’ high, 18’ wide and about 200,000 pounds. Over dimensional flatbeds have between 18 and 40 wheels. More often than not, over dimensional freight obstructs a driver’s view in several ways. In this scenario, certified pilots would be needed to cover the front and rear of the trailer. They would stay in constant communication with the driver to ensure the shipment goes smoothly.

Information shippers must know before obtaining over dimensional trailer capacity:

  • Exact dimensions
  • Total weight
  • Address of origin and destination
  • Type of cargo
  • Time in transit

If dimensions are off, it could cost the shipper thousands of dollars in transportation fees, especially if the shipment is passing through several state lines. Listing the wrong dimensions or weight could even lead to the use of improper equipment, which can be dangerous and/or lead to even bigger fines.

Rules change for over dimensional freight as the freight gets bigger or the carrier crosses state lines. The more specific information the shipper can offer to the carrier, the better. Over dimensional flatbed permits are typically inexpensive but you need to ensure you have the correct ones.

What to Read Next:

To guarantee your over dimensional load is delivered on-time, every time, request a free freight assessment. We have pre-qualified, specialized carriers who have the right equipment for your oversized load. Want help shipping your freight? Contact us now!

6 Reasons to Outsource Transportation to a 3PL Provider

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Outsourcing transportation processes to a third party logistics provider is more common than some shippers might think.  3PLs offer a suite of services, including supply chain management.  Efficient transportation is a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace and many companies now focus on optimizing logistics functions. 

6 reasons to outsource transportation to a 3PL:

  1. Save Time and Money.  A 3PLs expertise, transportation management software, carrier network and reporting capabilities assure time and cost savings for the shipper.
  1. Resource Network.  3PLs leverage industry relationships and shipment volumes to get lower prices.  They can negotiate lower fuel surcharges, too.  3PLs have thousands of carriers in their fleet network, so carriers bid on freight which lowers the price significantly.  
  1. Ongoing Optimization.  A 3PL will continuously search for ways to cut costs and add value to your logistics operations.  There’s a dedicated team of experts monitoring, analyzing and optimizing processes every day. A 3PL will make sure transportation operations never fall victim to the constantly changing supply chain environment.
  1. Risk Management.  Outsourcing transfers the risks of transportation operations to the logistics provider, protecting your organization from penalties and fines.  If a shipment is lost, stolen or damaged it’s the 3PLs responsibility.  A 3PL lowers these incidents anyways. 
  1. Technology.  A 3PL with a TMS is instrumental for insight into the supply chain. TMS technology provides the custom data you desire.  TMS software is very expensive, so when a 3PL integrates the technology, you save money, plus get more accessibility to capacity. Shippers benefit from increased load consolidation, more frequent backhauls and optimized routing and distribution.
  1. Operational Control.  Through a 3PL partnership, your operational control will increase.  Outsourcing is a two-way street.  A reputable 3PL will collaborate and report to you regularly which creates visibility and real-time metrics into your transportation processes than ever before. 

Outsourcing transportation management saves businesses time and money. 3PLs provide expertise to add value to your supply chain processes and give you time to focus on what matters most – your products, business and customers. If you’re ready to reap the benefits of outsourced logistics, contact PLS Logistics Services or request a free freight quote online.

Seen other advantages from a 3PL?  Disadvantages?  Leave us your comments below.

5 Things Carriers Should Stop (Now)

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Whether you’re a business owner, a freight forwarder or a 3PL company, your performance relies on the productivity and efficiency of trucking companies. Even if your own business processes and activities are perfectly adept, the supply chain still depends on how quickly and carefully trucks deliver freight from point A to point B.

That’s why we qualify our carrier network as best-in-class carriers. Carriers who are serious about efficiency, safety and accuracy are who we like to work with.

Shippers can’t afford to be affected with timely mistakes. Here are 5 things freight carriers should stop doing to appeal to more shippers:

1) Neglecting Maintenance Policy
Most carriers keep their trailers in good condition, but others neglect fleet maintenance. Trucking companies have total responsibility for inspecting and repairing trailers on a regular basis. Bad maintenance programs and careless attitudes toward equipment lead to engine problems, brake failure, tire blowouts and cargo damage.  Flawed equipment leads to supply chain disruption and a higher possibility of accidents.

2) Not Monitoring Efficiency
Resourceful fuel consumption and smooth braking are a major factor in cost effectiveness. There are special technologies that help fleet managers monitor drivers’ behavior and how it affects operation. Encouraging better driving habits leads to sustainable transportation practices.

3) Outdated Hiring Processes
Professional, responsible drivers are an advantage– for both freight carriers and freight shippers. Trucking companies have to provide proper training for new hires before sending them on the road. Trucking companies must perform background checks on applicants. And, to handle the driver shortage, carriers shouldn’t overlook other demographics as potential drivers.

4) Not Taking Safety Issues Seriously
Just like any other aspect of a carrier’s operation, a safety program won’t work without persistent monitoring and active involvement. Without practice, the driver puts his own safety in danger, plus the safety of others. And, of course, safety oversight leads to freight damage and supply chain disruptions.

5) Treating Drivers Without Respect
With more competition and limited capacity, drivers struggle to deliver freight to the point of sale as fast as possible. Carriers should consider the drivers’ work conditions and work-life balance. Trucking companies should provide drivers with: no more than 11 hours of operating work a day, a 10-hour break before a new shift, and a maximum 60-hour work week.

Want to work with reliable carrier partners? Contact PLS Logistics to get customized solutions for your supply chain with a wide choice of trucking companies and our tried expertise.
Are you a freight carrier? Stay busy moving freight when you join PLS carrier network.